Is SEO Really Dead? …Again?

Situation:

Google recently announced that they were introducing a completely new search algorithm which represents the biggest change to Google search in 12 years.  It is called Hummingbird and is causing all types of concern among business owners and web site creators alike. Is there really something to fear about this new change? Is it going to negate all of the work that has gone into a business’s web presence? Will Google just start giving higher notice to businesses that buy their services?

Analysis:

  1. About 50% of all Google users are doing so from handheld devices.  This revolution of using “apps for that” is what participated some of this change.
  2. Google will make an update, sites will lose significant traffic (usually because they’re doing something unethical or just don’t understand SEO), and everyone scrambles to find a reason (often resulting in the “SEO is Dead” rumors).
  3. Google also stopped providing all of the keyword data in the analytics for organic searches. We can no longer tell what keywords people are using to find your site organically.
  4. When businesses lose customers due to changes in Google’s algorithms the first thing that happens is the rumor that “SEO is dead”. Nothing can be further from the truth.

Solution:

According to my marketing team “Honestly, I chuckle every time I hear ‘SEO is Dead’. In my 15 years I have heard this so many times and it seems to happen about every time Google publishes a major update. Google will make an update, sites will lose significant traffic (usually because they’re doing something unethical or just don’t understand SEO), and everyone scrambles to find a reason.

“Ultimately, every company’s goal should be to create quality content that serves a purpose – this means your service/products, customer service, marketing plan, everything, should focus on this goal. No one builds a business without the end goal of generating revenue. So why would you consider any strategy that focuses on anything else? This is why bad SEO is just so damaging. Sure, I can implement some shady tricks that get you a huge spike in traffic from some top Google rankings for some obscure keywords that have nothing to do with what you’re really all about. And that’s what so many people think SEO really is – because they’ve probably had a bad experience. I’m personally starting to get annoyed with the loose usage of the term ‘SEO’ because it really means so much more – and the bad guys have ruined the good name of SEO for the rest of us. This is why I more often call what we do ‘integrated digital marketing’. My end goal is to generate more profit for my clients. Stuffing keywords into some tags and engaging in unethical schemes has never been nor never will be my strategy for making that happen. We focus on creating a meaningful user experience.

“In response to the comments that SEO is dead because the only way to get keywords data from Google is through AdWords is simply a narrow minded approach. These people are not understanding the big picture, nor do they understand how digital marketing works… at all. The fact that Google no longer tells us what keywords people are using to find our site organically may be a bit frustrating at first, yes. But the ones that are the most frustrated are the ones that are basically telling on themselves now. They’re exposing their ignorance. We never have put too much weight on the keywords. That’s because it only tells us a very small piece of the story. What’s more important data for us to analyze is – are people viewing certain landing pages on your site that cause them to engage further or take action? Are people taking the actions you want them to take (downloading files, filling out a contact form, signing up for a newsletter, calling you, etc.)? Is your bounce rate high or low and does it rise/fall as an effect of some marketing initiative? Are there other quality sites driving traffic to your site? This data is much more meaningful and helps us leverage our opportunities for building your business than simply knowing what keywords people used to find your site. Keywords don’t tell us nearly as much about intention as analyzing a user’s path through your site and what actions they took, if any.

“So, no SEO is not dead at all. We still need to engineer our websites so Google (and the other engines) can clearly understand the content found within. The basics of clean code, well optimized meta tags, etc. are still important, and will still contribute to the overall visibility of your site. Link building – a huge part of what SEO is – is more important than ever, and we must always be focused on attracting links from other quality sites that will send traffic to us. Schemes and scams will never work. Staying the course and focusing on user experience is the answer.”

For more information on the subject of good and bad SEO go to the following URLs:

7 SEO Tips for Business

The Ugly Side of SEO

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